Stanford Cropped
A chinese lion statue

I am currently in my fifth year of the PhD program in Linguistics at Stanford University. A sociolinguist primarily, I have a strong interest in ethnic and world varieties of English. At Stanford, my current faculty research directors are Rob Podesva, Penny Eckert and Meghan Sumner.

Before coming to Stanford, I received my MA in English Linguistics at North Carolina State University under the primary supervision of Walt Wolfram, as well as Erik Thomas and Robin Dodsworth.

My work focuses on ethnic and regional varieties of English in the United States, including African American English, Chicano English, Japanese American English, and regional California and North Carolina varieties. At Stanford, I'm happy to be a contributing field worker and researcher in the Voices of California project, concentrating mainly on sociophonetic variation of several regional California dialects. My contribution to this work has been analyses of the California vowel shift and the production of sibilants across the state.

My dissertation -- projected for completion in Summer 2016 -- addresses an important question I've had since becoming a sociolinguist:

What is the relationship between dialect variation and stylistic variation?

Are they one and the same thing? (Hint: I don't think so). Does one originate from another? From a viewpoint of variation as social meaning (i.e., the third-wave variationist framework, cf. Eckert 2005), what is a dialect anyway? How much regularity is there, actually, in the everyday speech of an individual going about the course of her life?

To address these questions, my dissertation takes an in-depth look at the everyday speech of one young California female, via 200+ hours of self-recorded speech over two weeks of her life, not to mention many more hours of ethnographic observation and interviews. In these data, I look at evidence for both overwhelming regularity, which characterizes the bulk of this speaker's speech production, and significant stylistic irreguliarities as well. I also draw connections between both the regularities and irregularities and the social meanings they present for my speaker and her interlocutors. This study enables me to challenge basic assumptions surrounding the "vernacular principle" (cf. Labov 1972) and to demonstrate the full range of stylistic variation in the life of an ordinary speaker.

Concentrating primarily in the sociophonetic domain, my dissertation builds upon pilot work using distribution analysis to identify stylistically-salient vowel tokens from larger bins of "baseline" or "normal" tokens. I wrote this study up in my second qualifying paper and presented it at the 2015 Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting. Additional pilot work used statistical outliers to identify stylistically-salient tokens in the speech of a prototypical "jock" and a "burnout" from Penny Eckert's famous Belten High ethnography. This study was presented as part of a "Jocks and Burnouts: Revisited" panel at NWAV 42.

In addition to my work at Stanford, I continue to be a contributing researcher for the North Carolina Language and Life Project, where my work includes analysis of morphosyntactic features of African American English from a longitudinal corpus of child language housed at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Using this corpus, Charlie Farrington and I recently presented a paper about an emerging feature--invariant aspectual be like--at the 2015 LSA annual meeting. Our talk was picked up by the Boston Globe in a piece about invariant aspectual be in African American English. My additional work with the NCLLP involves sociophonetic analyses of vowels and consonants in African American and Chicano Englishes.

Outside of English, I enjoy investigating the Lithuanian, Russian, and most recently, Kazakh languages. My first qualifying paper provides a syntactic analysis of movement/splitting phenomena in the Lithuanian noun phrase. In Kazakh, I investigated parallels between noun phrase structure and nominalized embedded clauses.


When I'm not working on linguistic matters, I'm most likely to be found spending time with my family. I have a husband and three amazing boys (aged 9, 6, and 2), who are featured in the various photographs on my website. We love activity, which means bike riding, camping, swimming, ice skating, exploring, and traveling whenever we have the chance.


Thanks a lot for visiting my site, and please don't hesitate to send me an email to discuss my research or linguistics in general.